ISLAMABAD -  Qatar Ports Management Company (Mwani Qatar) has announced to launch a new shipping route between its Hamad Port and Pakistan’s premier Karachi Port to mitigate the impact of the trade embargo against Qatar by Saudi Arabia.

The Pakistan Gulf Service (PGS) has been launched in partnership by two major shipping lines including Wan Hai and Simatech Shipping line.

The Hamad Port has welcomed merchant ship Libra on its first port call of the weekly direct container service.

The Wan Hai and Simatech Shipping lines plan to operate two vessels of 1200 TEUs on the new route with one ship for each one.

Thanks to their extensive services, which include many ports in Asia, Europe and USA, exporters and importers will be able to ship their goods regularly to and from Qatar via Karachi.

Commenting on the announcement, Director of Hamad Port Abdul Aziz al Yafei said that "we are delighted to announce the inauguration of Hamad Port-Karachi new service.

“The new line will be an important addition to the previously launched lines, which are part of the strategy to stabilize the domestic market and transform Hamad Port into a trans-shipment hub in the region."

He said that the "new shipping line provides more options for customers, exporters, and importers from both countries, covering new important ports from around the world, which will play an important role in supporting trade between Qatar and its partners of the world."

According to Pakistani shippers, the launch of PGS will boost trade between Pakistan and Qatar and offer fast and secure solutions for importers and exporters from both countries with a transit time of only 6 days from Hamad Port to Karachi and eight days in turn.

Prior to the Saudi-led trade embargo, Qatar used to have its trade through major ports of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and other ports of the GCC countries.

However, since the announcement of trade sanctions by these countries, Qatar is struggling to mitigate the impact of the punitive trade sanctions.

A senior official from the Ports and Shipping Ministry said that shipping is an international business, and rejected notions that the PGS has anything to do between the two governments.

“There is no direct agreement between the Karachi port and Hamad port”, the official told The Nation on Sunday while commenting on the development.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the official ruled out the possibility of any fallout of a mere routine commercial matter on Pakistan.  “There is no agreement between Pakistan and Qatar governments about the new shipping service”, the official said.